Men in Black: International and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by F Gary Gray
As tacky as it may seem, I kind of want to see MORE studios blatantly try to pick at the MCU’s carcass by snatching up its major talent and putting them in new scenarios with similar dynamics. It’s kind of like the cinematic equivalent of an Elseworld’s tale or maybe even one of those bizarre crossover comics where the X-Men are on the Enterprise or Doctor Who has to fight the Cenobites or whatever. Picking up both Chris Hemsworth in full on Thor Swagger mode and Tessa Thompson at the height of her popularity is probably the best thing this film has going for it because it certainly isn’t the name brand recognition. The first Men in Black movie was good but is older than the target audience of this film, the sequel was utter dreck despite having my beloved Johnny Knoxville in a fun supporting role, and I never even bothered with the third movie that this thankfully doesn’t seem to be a direct sequel to. Still, the concept is at least unique enough that you could still salvage it given the right talent which looks to be the case with its cast as well as being directed by F Gary Gray. Can the MIB be brought back from the dead to be the next big cinematic franchise, or are we doomed to repeat the mistakes of the late nineties and early 2000s over and over again
Molly (Tessa Thompson) has spent the last twenty years looking for the mysterious Men in Black organization which tried to capture an alien in her childhood home but failed to do so and also failed to neuralyse her like they did her parents. It was a pretty serendipitous event as well because Molly is a bit of a loner and cares more about unlocking the mysteries of the universe than having friends or forming genuine human relationships; a trait prided in members of the MIB! Because of this as well as her ability to eventually find them, the current head of the New York branch Agent O (Emma Thompson) gives her a shot with the new moniker Agent M and sends her to London for training where she runs into Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) who is a big shot hero from a few years ago but seems to be in a bit of a slump. He and the head of the London branch High T (Liam Neeson) once stopped an alien invasion with nothing but a couple of weapons and their wits, but when a protection operation H takes M along on goes completely awry, it could spell the end of not just their careers but the Earth itself. They must solve the mystery of who wanted to kill H’s alien buddy Vungus the Ugly (Kayvan Novak) and whether or not there’s some greater conspiracy happening with the MIB that this is just a small part of. Oh yeah, and there’s a comic relief alien (Kumail Nanjiani) that does cute things and spouts sarcasm. Can M and H learn to work together and solve the mystery before MIB or something more dangerous catches up to them? Will the organization that prides itself on being secretive collapse into ruin due to the duplicitous nature of one of its own? Is it just me, or is it becoming increasingly hard to believe that THIS many people and THIS much equipment are STILL a complete mystery to the undiscerning masses; all of whom have smart phones and social media accounts?
Hotel Artemis and all the images you see in this review are owned by Global Road Entertainment
Directed by Drew Pearce
So you’re telling me that there’s a movie with Dave Bautista AND Jeff Goldblum in it, but it’s NOT part of the MCU!? That seems like a bit of waste, especially considering the latter is clearly playing the same character minus the highlights, but I guess not EVERYTHING has to be a superhero film… at least for now. Anyway, I kow ABSOLUTELY nothing going into this film other than seeing the poster once, and even that didn’t give much information on what this was going to be about, so it’s yet another chance for me to roll the dice at the theater which can be REALLY great when a movie surprises you, but then you run the risk of being completely unprepared if the film is an absolute train wreck. Did I manage to roll sevens on a solid action film, or will I end up getting snake eyes on my last bet before I lose my thumbs? Let’s find out!!
It’s the year 2028 and our movie begins with a crew of gangsters trying to pull off a bank heist in the middle of LA during a riot. It seems that some big conglomerate turned off the water for everyone and now people are rising up to march their corporate offices and beat the hell out of anyone still working there which is an awful indictment of privatization and a huge humanitarian crisis, but ALSO a great opportunity to steal stuff because the cops are busy elsewhere. Capitalism, am I right? Anyway, the heist doesn’t quite go as planned and they barely seem to break even by just taking the stuff of those who happened to be there at the time, but one of them gets shot (Brian Tyree Henry) and his brother Sherman (Sterling K Brown) has to drag him to a SECRET CRIMINAL HOSPITAL known as The Hotel Artemis run by The Nurse (Jodie Foster) who has a very precise set of rules that are followed to the latter; else you have to deal with the orderly named Everest (Dave Bautista) and you do not want to deal with Everest unless absolutely necessary. Sherman and his brother aren’t the only ones there however as a fellow guest staying in the Nice room (Sofia Boutella) is nursing a gunshot wound and another guest in the Acapulco room (Charlie Day) is getting his face fixed up after some sort of encounter. Seems like a typical night at The Hotel Artemis, right? Well it turns out that riots can cause a fair bit of chaos, even in a place as well protected as that, and things start to unravel as someone from The Nurse’s past start to show up asking for help (Jenny Slate), and the big mob boss who helped The Nurse set this place up known simply as The Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum) is stopping by with a gunshot wound; flanked by his hot headed son (Zachary Quinto) who chafes immediately at all the rules. Oh, and it turns out that Sherman’s brother managed to take something that belonged to The Wolf King during the heist, and if he were to find out… well let’s just say that wolves aren’t typically known for their ability to share things. Can The Nurse keep order in this place while the rest of the world is descending into chaos around her? How long can Sherman keep himself and his brother out of sight, and will they be able to escape in time? How is it that no one can just follow the rules!? IT’S NOT THAT HARD!!
Passengers and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Morten Tyldum
I’ve started watching Parks and Recreations recently and seeing Chris Pratt in that film has started to color my perceptions of him as a leading man. Sure, Guardians of the Galaxy still holds up as he’s still playing up to his comedic strengths, but every time I see the poster for this movie with him and Jennifer Lawrence blandly starring back with their chiseled Hollywood looks, it’s just gotten harder to take that seriously when all I can think of Burt Macklin: The best FBI agent ever! Still, the guy does have a HUGE amount of talent and more than enough charisma to carry a movie, so maybe he’s the right fit to bring some humanity to this kind of science fiction story and can hold his own against an actress of Jennifer Lawrence’s caliber. Does Passengers manage to give us a compelling story anchored by two great performances from some of the most bankable names in the business right now, or is this a giant misstep that will be stain on their relatively strong careers up to this point? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with everyone’s favorite member of Mouse Rat in a giant space mall that’s hurtling through the galaxy at a preposterous rate but still too slow for anyone to if they had to manually control the damn thing. That’s why the ship is on autopilot and presumptive hero Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) along with the other five thousand people on this ship are in hibernation pods and riding out this long journey to the new space colony on Homestead II. Unfortunately for Starlord, there’s some malfunction that wakes his ass, and ONLY his ass, before everyone else with no way to go back to sleep and is trapped alone on this space ship for the next ninety years. At first it’s not all bad considering he sort of has the run of the place which is full of video games, movies, and sushi, and he even has a friendly robotic bartender (Michael Sheen) to air his grievances at. Eventually though, he manages to taste every variation on the tuna roll, got the high score in the latest instalment of Just Dance, and manages to drink half the ship’s wine cellar within about a year, so doing this for another 89 of them isn’t all that appealing. He basically has two options at this point; kill himself or wake someone else up to keep him company. Well we wouldn’t really have a movie if they went with the former (that actually would be a pretty awesome short film) so he JUST SO HAPPENS to fixate on a writer named Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) and eventually cracks open her hibernation pod and pretends it was an accident just like his was. Will she be able to fill the silence that has driven him to the brink of madness and give a reason to live once again? What could he possibly do to make up for essentially kidnapping her and ruining her life as she’s doomed to suffer the same fate as him, and what will happen when she finds out the truth? Well there IS an airlock. I’m pretty sure she could have some fun with that.
Arrival and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Well this is another movie that just kind of snuck up on me. Apparently we’re not supposed to know movies are coming out unless they’re part of a franchise or have talking animals in it. The thing is that had I known about this more than a week before it came out, I probably would have gotten really excited to see it as it’s directed by the same guy who did Sicario which was one of my favorite movies of last year. That, and hard sci-fi is usually an easy sell for me, so maybe it wouldn’t have hurt to throw this trailer in front of that new Independence Day movie or something. Anyway, does this in-depth examination on the problems with communicating not only work as a scientific procedural but as a badass alien flick, or is all the moody imagery and themes about humanity’s inability to effectively talk to one another just a cover for a mediocre slog? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with a montage as we see Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) give birth to her daughter Hannah and watch her grow up and die due to some sort of illness. After that uplifting introduction, we see Dr. Banks go back to work (presumably some time has passed since the funeral) where she’s a professor of Linguistics at… some college. Unfortunately, it JUST SO HAPPENS that aliens have started landing all over the planet in these giant spaceships that are referred to as Shells, but always looked like black contact lenses to me. Because she’s so good at what she does, Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) brings her to one of the landing sites to see if she can help them understand the alien creatures inside. Those two, along with Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) who is a theoretical physicists need to work together to get these aliens talking or else the world governments, especially a Military leader in China General Shang (Tzi Ma), get too antsy about the shells just hanging around and start firing at them. Can this rag tag group of smart people unlock the secrets inside of these spaceships and prevent humanity from destroying them and possibly themselves in the process? Just what exactly do these aliens want, and why are they just hanging around instead of doing something productive? Seriously, they mastered light speed travel, but they couldn’t figure out a way to communicate with the primitive species BEFORE parking their giant spaceships!?